There are things I understand about this country- corruption, lack of freedom, '0' tolerance, lack of transparency and much more. But one thing, never seems to really settle- when government officials, members of the ruling party or those who consider (and don't mind) being puppets in the hands of authorities say things like democracy, free and fair elections, transparency, freedom of expression while speaking of Azerbaijan in their interviews. It strikes me every time! Honestly, how much of this crap you have been forced to take in that you cannot stop spitting it out?
Just today, as I was going through some online papers, I came across this article and almost fell of my chair as I was reading things this parliament member was saying. In an interview [ENG] with News.Az, Gular Ahmadova spoke of accepting defeat with dignity, democratically elected new parliament and Western approach in this country. Below is a short excerpt from her interview which I couldn't not share:
Q. Do you think the ruling party's victory in the elections is lawful?
A. [A question that requires a simple answer: YES or NO] I think no one doubts that very many changes for the better have occurred in the country during Ilham Aliyev's presidency [What does this have to do with the question asked?] No one can dismiss the contribution of Mr. President and first Lady Mehriban Aliyeva after she took over as head of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. [I am sorry, did anyone asked her about the first lady or the Haydar Aliyev fund?] I understand that it is difficult to lose, but it is great pity that we have not yet developed the culture of elections [OH WOW?!], which has already formed in other democratic states [of course, as if we have achieved democracy in all other places], when the losing side takes defeat calmly [...] One should also be able to lose with dignity and this is a good personal quality [Ha, speaking of dignity?! And what about ballot stuffing or multiple voting that was recorded at so many of the polling stations across the country?]
Beloved member of the parliament also spoke of inability of the opposition representatives to take active role while discussing legislative changes at the parliament.
[...] They were active only when members of the government and so on were invited to parliament. Only at such moments did they find time to declare their slogans. I cannot say that they did much work or had any working authority in parliament. They have never excelled in terms of their capacity for hard work [Reading this last sentence made me feel as if reading notes of a teacher speaking of its bad and naughty students].
Well, this is something new, I have heard opposition being called a number different kinds of names, but this is the first when I hear them called lazy and lagging behind the rest of the active and smart parliament members.
And once again, I read something I have grown used to by now- when it suits, Azerbaijan is a European country, when it doesn't its only a new democracy and an ex- Soviet country that cannot be compared to countries of Europe but instead should only be compared to its bordering neighbors.
But this reassurance does not come from nowhere. If an international institution like ODIHR for instance, cannot make any claims on the overall process of the elections saying that "Its really not up to us to really say whether or not the election was democratic" then we shouldn't be surprised and get frustrated. We have reached the pinnacle of authoritarian regime where even credible international institutions as the ODIHR cannot make any claims or serious statements while there has been serious violations during elections (ballot stuffing, multiple voting and etc.) And while US State Department concluded that "the conduct of these elections overall was not sufficient to constitute meaningful progress in the democratic development of the country" Azerbaijan authorities dismissed any such claims (just like it happens every other time when a criticism is raised against Azerbaijan).
Just recently, a young man from Azerbaijan made a very bold statement at a conference I was at, calling on all attendants of the conference to "cut the crap and get to the chase". Sometimes this is exactly what I feel saying but at the end of the day nobody cares, nobody listens, nobody sees anything and no one will say anything...